Summary: The letter to the church at Sardis.
AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church October 29, 2006
"I See Dead People..." (The letter to the church at Sardis) Rev. 3:1-6
[SERMON SERIES SLIDE…IT WILL AUTOMATICALLY ADVANCE TO TITLE SLIDE THEN A BLANK SLIDE]
All I’ve seen of the movie, The Sixth Sense starring Bruce Willis are the clips they put in the television commercials which aired when the movie first came out about seven years ago. One of those clips seems to have etched itself into my memory. [SLIDE] It’s when a young boy whispers the words, "I see dead people." In a few moments it will be obvious why I used that line for my sermon title.
Now, we’ve been looking at the 7 letters to the 7 churches found in Revelation chapters 2 & 3. And last week I mentioned that the words "I know" appear in every one of them----the words "I know" describe the fact that nothing escapes the searching eye of Jesus---whether you’re talking public or private activity...it makes no difference....Jesus sees it all---He knows what’s going on and what’s not going on among His people. Today as we look into the fifth letter, Christ’s letter to the church at Sardis, we basically find Jesus saying "when I look at you...I see dead people."
Revelation 3:1-6 reads like this............. [SERMON SLIDES]
3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There are five things this morning which I believe God wants me to share with you. Three are for the church as a whole and two are to each of us as individuals. [1ST SERMON POINT SLIDE] First to the church collectively God is saying, "Since reputation and reality don’t always agree---learn from both."
Jesus told the church at Sardis "you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Now usually reputations are built upon something more substantial than air. For example--- Professional golfer Tommy Bolt has had the reputation for being the angriest golfer to ever play the game. One of the stories told about him is of a time when he giving a group lesson on how to hit a ball out of a sand trap. Tommy called his 11 year old son over and said to him “Show them what you’ve learned from your father to do when your shot lands in the sand.” At that his son picked up a wedge and threw it as high and as far as he could.
Another story told on Bolt had him dressing down a new caddy who had a reputation for being overly talkative. Bolt made it clear he wouldn’t put up with a bunch of chatter---he told the young man, “I don’t want you talking to me during the round. And when I ask you a question, you answer with a “yes or no” and nothing more---understood?” The caddy replied “yes, Mr. Bolt.”
Later during the round, Bolt found the ball next to a tree, where he had to hit under a branch, over a lake and onto the green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees and sized up the shot.
“What do you think?” he asked the caddy. “Five-iron?”
“No, Mr. Bolt,” the caddy said.
“What do you mean, not a five-iron?” Bolt snorted. “Watch this shot.”
The caddy rolled his eyes. “No-o-o, Mr. Bolt.”
But Bolt hit it and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the five-iron and said, “Now what do you think about that? You can talk now.”
“Mr. Bolt,” the caddy said, “that wasn’t your ball.”
Like I said, reputations usually have behind them something of substance. Okay, okay, I know you bird fans are thinking it ---so this Cub fan will go ahead and say it. This year the St. Louis Cardinals had a reputation for being a good team but not World Series contenders. They proved the experts wrong and clinched the series in 5 games. Woo-hoo! Yeah, yeah I know. Getting back to Sardis--- what this stuff about reputation usually having some substance behind it means when we’re talking about Sardis is that probably there was a point in time when the church at Sardis was a growing, worshipping and happening church. And more than likely it was during the church’s hey days that its reputation for being a "live church" came to be. Now it appears that even though that booming period had probably long since passed, Sardis’ reputation of being a live church still lingered on in some hearts and minds. Jesus however says to those holding on to that past reputation....you have a reputation for being alive but the reality is for the most part the light’s gone out of your church and your church is dead.